MOYLE Council has thrown its weight behind the campaign against a government closure order at Ballykenver Moss near Armoy.
Independent councillor Seamus Blaney got unanimous backing for a letter to be fired off to the authorities attacking the proposal.
The support for the turfcutters came as it emerged Moyle Council is to join the ‘Fuel Povery Coalition’.
Moyle Council officer Peter Mawdsley said Moyle has probably the worst fuel poverty in Northern Ireland.
Cllr Blaney said some people will be plunged into fuel poverty if they are not able to cut turf.
“We have people who are dependent on turfcutting. It is a bloody disgrace that faceless bureaucrats can say we cannot cut turf any more and they sit up on their high stools in Stormont.
“We should make a stand and say ‘to hell with it with are going to cut and that’s it’,” said the councillor.
Cllr Blaney said turfcutters of all persuasions use the Moss where community relations are very good.
And he said people have a “right” to cut turf.
Ulster Unionist councillor Willie Graham said he recently attended a meeting at Ballykenver about the threat to turfcutting and he said: “We are trying all we can to get the DoE to look more favourably at it”.
He said he enjoys going to the Moss every year to get peat.
Independent councillor Padraig McShane said it is a tradition for many people to go the Moss and he said the closure order is coming at a time when more people are returning to turfcutting because of the credit crunch.
DUP councillor Robert McIlroy said: “The sad thing about all of this is the people who make these regulations don’t know what fuel poverty is and if they did they would not step in so quickly to deprive people who depend on the peats coming home.”
Sinn Fein councllor Cathal Newcombe said 1,000 people die each year because of the cold and he said if they were dying from some sort of “imported flu” others would be out blocking roads in protest.
“It is the most serious thing we have at the present time, the biggest health risk,” he said.
Independent councillor Helen Harding said: “I support all the efforts that are being made to let the turfcutting continue.
“Turfcutting was a yearly tradition. I was horrified when I saw in the paper that this was going to be stopped,” she added.
Focusing on the wider issue of fuel poverty, Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane said more pressure needs to be put on the Housing Executive to re-open blocked fireplaces in homes so that people don’t have to rely on home heating oil which has rocked in price in recent years.